United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
WILLIAM C. GRIESBACH, CHIEF JUDGE
Carlos Miranda, who is representing himself, filed a
complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that
defendant Milwaukee County Jail violated his constitutional
rights. He also filed a motion to proceed without prepaying
the filing fee. The Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA)
applies to this case because Miranda was incarcerated when he
filed his complaint. The PLRA requires courts to screen
complaints filed by prisoners to confirm that the complaint
is not legally “frivolous or malicious” and that
it states a claim upon which relief can be granted. 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915A(b). This case was originally assigned to
Magistrate Judge William Duffin; however, because not all
parties have had the opportunity to consent to magistrate
judge jurisdiction, the case was reassigned to Chief Judge
William Griesbach for entry of this order.
to Proceed without Prepaying the Filing Fee
Miranda has requested leave to proceed without prepayment of
the full filing fee (in forma pauperis). A prisoner
plaintiff proceeding in forma pauperis is required
to pay the full amount of the $350.00 filing fee over time.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(b)(1). Miranda filed a
certified copy of his prison trust account statement for the
six-month period immediately preceding the filing of his
complaint, as required under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(2), and
he paid an initial partial filing fee of $27.23. Accordingly,
Miranda's motion for leave to proceed without prepaying
the filing fee will be granted.
of the Complaint
the PLRA, a court must dismiss a complaint if a plaintiff
raises claims that are legally “frivolous or malicious,
” that fail to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted, or that seek monetary relief from a defendant who is
immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b). To state
a claim, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter,
accepted as true, “that is plausible on its
face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). “A claim has facial plausibility
when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows a court
to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged.” Id. (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).
proceed under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must allege
that: 1) he was deprived of a right secured by the
Constitution or laws of the United States; and 2) the
defendant was acting under color of state law.
Buchanan-Moore v. County of Milwaukee, 570 F.3d 824,
827 (7th Cir. 2009) (citing Kramer v. Village of North
Fond du Lac, 384 F.3d 856, 861 (7th Cir. 2004)); see
also Gomez v. Toledo, 446 U.S. 635, 640 (1980). The
court gives a pro se plaintiff's allegations,
“however inartfully pleaded, ” a liberal
construction. See Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89,
94 (2007) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97,
in the Complaint
Miranda alleges that, on January 6, 2019, while housed at the
Milwaukee County Jail, he sought to mail a letter, a ring
that he had made, and two pieces of candy to his wife in
sealed envelope. According to Miranda, before the envelope
was mailed, someone opened the envelope and removed its
contents. Miranda asserts that the letter and the candy were
put back into the envelope, but the ring was not.
states that, about two weeks later, on January 19, 2019, his
wife told him that she had received the letter and the candy,
but not the ring. Miranda asserts that he filed a grievance,
which was signed by Officer Perez-Gerena. A couple of months
later, on March 21, 2019, Miranda received the following
response: “Lt. Montana stated that there was no
property taken from any mail.” ECF No. 1 at 3.
court will not allow Miranda to proceed with this case.
First, Miranda cannot sue the Milwaukee County Jail under
§ 1983, which allows a plaintiff to sue a
“person” who, acting under color of law, violates
his constitutional rights. State law determines whether an
entity has the capacity to be sued. Webb v. Franklin
County Jail, No. 16-cv-1284, 2017 WL 914736 at *2 (S.D.
Ill. Mar. 8, 2017). In Wisconsin, the jail is an arm of the
sheriff's department, which is an arm of the county.
See Abraham v. Piechowski, 13 F.Supp.2d 870, 877-79
(E.D. Wis. 1998). This means that the jail is not a
“legal entity separable from the county government
which it serves . . . .” Whiting v. Marathon
C'nty Sheriff's Department, 382 F.3d 700, 704
(7th Cir. 2004). Because the Milwaukee County Jail does not
have the legal capacity to be sued, Miranda cannot pursue
claims against it.
§ 1983 case, a plaintiff may sue only those individuals
who were personally involved in the alleged constitutional
deprivation. Colbert v. City of Chicago, 851 F.3d
649, 657 (7th Cir. 2017). The court will not allow Miranda to
amend his complaint to name the allegedly responsible
individuals because, even if he had named the proper
defendants, he would fail to state a claim upon which relief
could be granted.
extent Miranda complains that jail staff opened his sealed
outgoing mail, the Seventh Circuit has repeatedly held
“that searches of prisoners' outgoing mail is
permissible for security purposes, such as searching for
contraband, escape plans, and the like.” Beese v.
Liebe, 51 Fed.Appx. 979, 982 (7th Cir. 2002) (citing
Gaines v. Lane, 790 ...